Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Get ready for Mardi Gras!


Count on us to be right in the middle of the action when Division Street turns into a full-on Bourbon Street scene on Fat Tuesday (Feb. 24).

This first-ever, three-bar pub crawl stumbles through Bootleggers, The Original Mother’s and Shenannigans with live music, $5 Hurricane refills, dancing and more. Starts at 6pm. $10.

If that's too rambunctious for your tastes, check the list for more jump offs:

Carnivale throws a three-day celebration, mixing it up with a different theme each night. Festivities begin Sunday with family night complete with face painters, balloon cartoonists, stilt walkers, and free masks and beads. Mojito Monday keeps it going with a masquerade ball and drinks themed from around the globe, including a Mexican version with hibiscus-infused Gran Centenario tequila. And, as a grand finale, the Fat Tuesday bash offers live music, samba dancers, tableside mojito cart and Carnivale-inspired menu by chef Mark Mendez. 5-10pm

Get your dance on at Crobar's version of the New Orleans French Quarter. The Debonair Masquerade Ball boasts a live Louisiana brass band along with deejays Tony Arzadon and Tomeeo keeping the beats flowing. They’ll provide beads and masks, and when you need a break from the excitement, check out your fortune with tarot card readings. Don’t forget to RSVP for free admission and your first Hurricane on the house before midnight. Saturday 10pm-5am.

Heaven on Seven amps up their 24/7 Cajun flair with live music and a special themed menu. This time around, the spotlight is on the King Cakes—flown in straight from New Orleans. Find a prize in this traditional dish and you could be the lucky winner of some pretty sweet give-aways. They’ll be celebrating all weekend through Fat Tuesday. 11am-10pm.

For a well-paired brew with your Cajun celebration, head to Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap for the all-you-can-eat-and-drink beer tasting event. Cajun-inspired dishes will be paired with Louisiana microbrew, Abita, and set up in stations with information about each pairing. They’ll also feature Blue Plate Special, playing Creole-Zydeco to get you outta your seat. Beer pairing 6:30-9pm/$30. Live music 7-11pm Tuesday.

Mardi Gras Masquerade's the theme for Kit Kat’s Fat Tuesday set. In addition to their New Orleans-style menu, they’ll have masks, beads and performances throughout the evening by Kit Kat Diva Traci Ross. Half-price martinis and $5.50 Cruzan rum cocktails should keep the party going. 5:30pm-2am Tuesday.

Marche will bring diners a taste of the Bayou with Creole-inspired dishes created by chef Cory Peterson. The a la carte menu includes items like alligator soup ($12) and blackened rock shrimp risotto with bacon and scallions (14). Offered Friday through Fat Tuesday. 5:30-10pm

And celebrate Mardi Gras season Brazilian style at Texas de Brazil for a week-long kick-off to Carnival. The sword-wielding gauchos will be making the rounds with extra specialty recipes, including Carnival’s signature dish, Brazilian Feijoada (includes several kinds of meats cooked with beans and served with white rice). Also, check out the Carnival Shot Block for a little post-meal treat. This wooden tray holds four different shots inspired by the Carnival season ($44.99). Feb. 19-23.--Served deliciously by Suzy M.

Rock chef opens Feast with a bang


She's served as private chef for the likes of Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart, but Tuesday Debra Sharpe (Feast, Goddess & Grocer) was in the spotlight with an event for the Australian Red Cross to raise money for the bushfire victims.

Held in conjunction with the grand opening for the new Gold Coast location for Feast, the benefit raised a nice chunk of cash to help the Aussies.

The second Feast is completely different from the original, more family-friendly spot, offering a beer-focused menu, as noted by Urban Daddy:

"On a Friday night before hitting the bars, you'll slip in for a casual dinner—one of the rock-solid burgers, paired with a cold Fat Tire or a get-this-party-started scotch (or both). Post-bar, you'll wind things down in the lounge with Brisket Sliders, or maybe a simple prosciutto pizza for two."

What they're saying on Facebook . . .

Jon Young's Volo, in Roscoe Village, offers $10 on wine flights during "Flight Night" every Wednesday. (Photo: Jon Young)

Fernando Beteta (Wine Director NoMI/Park Hyatt Chicago): "Now Master Sommelier! Thank you all for believing in me and giving me strength!"

Graham Elliott Bowles (Owner/Executive Chef): “Devising menu for metropolis coffee dinner being held at graham elliot (wed, march 25th). four courses/four coffees/$49.”

Marc Brooks (Owner/Park 52: "Pleased with Park 52's new Shrimp & Grits dish."

Hunter Cannon (Bar Owner): “Looking for good acoustic group for Thursdays (at Faith & Whiskey).”

Curtis Duffy (Executive Chef/Avenues): "Focusing on Spring Menu Flavors!"

Stephanie Izard (Executive Chef/The Drunken Goat): "Getting ready for Smackdown at Goose Island tomorrow at 7pm. Come taste over 15 mac n' cheeses from Chicago chefs and vote for your fav!"

Mark Mendez (Executive Chef/Carnivale): "Making cochinita pibil for casa nobles teqila dinner tomorrow."

Debra Sharpe (Restaurateur): "So proud we raised a lot of money for the Australian Red Cross bushfire victims appeal at the new Feast in the Gold Coast."

Jon Young (Managing Partner): "All about Flight Night at Volo tonight!”

The Oscars are here!


You know you cannot wait to make your cattiest remarks as celebrities make their way down the Red Carpet right before the Academy Awards, happening Sunday, Feb. 22. But what good is it if you're watching them alone?!

Head out to one of these parties and get in the spirit with movie-themed cocktails, large screens and the chance to hang with some of the most glamorous people in town:

Watch the festivities on several flat screen monitors at the bustling bar of neighborhood favorite Brasserie JO. Bonus: Guests will be treated to complimentary passed tarte flambées.

Upscale sports lounge Bull & Bear jumps into the mix with a party that includes a prize for the "best-dressed couple." 7pm-2am. No cover.

Movie critic Richard Roeper skips Tinseltown for this Chi-Town shindig happening at Hub 51. The party should bring out some interesting media personalities, plus there's an open bar, contests and lavish buffets. A portion of the proceeds go to Columbia College Chicago's Film Scholarship Fund. Doors open at 6pm. $125.

For a pre-Oscar party, make your way to May Street Market for the event supporting ACCESS Christian Academy for Children with Disabilities. Mingle while munching on light appetizers by executive chef Alex Chesnick. 5-8pm. $60 in advance; $75 at door.

We're loving the flick-focused goodies over at Rendez-Vous Bar & Lounge in the Conrad Hilton, which will also have screens tuned into the action. Indulge in the decadent Godiva’s Milk and Golden Gate Cookies, a tribute to "Milk" with Godiva white chocolate liqueur, vanilla vodka and cream (and golden gate cookies!); Button Cakes ("Curious Case of Benjamin Button"); and The Millionaire Mojito ("SlumDog Millionaire"), which adds bubbly to the tasty Latin libation.

And they're rolling out the Red Carpet for yet another benefit at the brand-new Tapas Valencia in the South Loop. Hosted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Associate Board, the "Dark Night"-themed party includes passed tapas, specialty cocktails and a silent auction. Of course, you'll be able to catch the awards show on several televisions. Doors open at 5:30pm. $50 in advance; $55 at door.